Politico reports that two “lines of attack” are emerging. Trump and likeminded Republicans are going the full Fox News Tucker Carlson Frothing Doomspeech route, declaring that Black Lives Matter is a “Marxist” movement, radical plan to “destroy” the police, “destroy” the American family, a conspiracy, an anti-fascist plot, et cetera and so on. Republicans in more swing districts are … well, saying the same things, but just leaving the phrase “Black Lives Matter” out of it.
The problem, you see, is that Black Lives Matter is now a very popular movement among nearly every subsection of the electorate not consisting of racist conservatives. Americans are in general agreement with the premise that militarized police departments should not be killing unarmed Black men and boys during routine traffic stops or over an alleged counterfeit bill.
So swing-district Republicans are attempting to avoid the movement’s broad popularity by not mentioning the “Black Lives Matter” phrase, but instead focusing on the alleged chaos that would result from “defunding” the police. Yes, America could redirect more resources to social services and community-oriented response teams rather than having armed police officers respond to every minor non-criminal incident, but if we did that we would all be doomed, our cities would be desolate and lawless wastelands, and some say the living would envy the dead. The usual stuff.
The core of the American approach to social problems is that maintaining order requires a frequently paramilitary response. It has been baked into the system since slavery, and the reasons for its perpetuation are not much different now. It’s not, for example, brazenly corrupt bank executives being dragged into unmarked vans by assault rifle-wielding anonymous agents. It’s people who want social change. The Americans being killed by aggressive, militarized law “enforcement” are, disproportionately, Black. It’s not an accident, and has in the United States literally never been otherwise, to the point where even suggesting it be changed is declared to be a radical, anti-American conspiracy.
Because Republicanism is devoid of any backing policy other than racism—and you can flip through the last two decades of spinning, contrary positions on anything from deficits to “big government” to “local control” to executive orders for evidence of that—it was a given that the closing argument in these elections would be racism. Even during a once-per-century pandemic that is continuing to kill Americans, it would be racism. During multiple trade wars, multiple constitutional crises, a collapsed economy, it would still be racism. There is one hammer and one nail; the party and its base cannot tolerate more nuance than that.
There is always, just before each Republican runs for reelection, a new existential crisis caused by non-whites that threatens to destroy America if said Republican is not returned to power. Last time it was “caravans” of non-whites seeking asylum in this nation that was Marxism, or “globalist”-inspired, and poised to destroy American suburbia by spreading “disease” and bilingualism.
It was ISIS. It was ISIS plus ebola. It was too-lenient treatment of children who were brought to America through no fault of their own. If you believed the National Rifle Association and their kept pets, it was “urban” people who would be rampaging through your neighborhoods to loot and pillage after something-something destroyed society, leaving you defenseless unless you were prepared to murder dozens or hundreds in the apocalyptic remains.
Every election just happens to coincide with a new existential crisis of predominately not-white human beings doing something that would destroy America, we are told by bulging-eyed shouting white conservative candidates and media figures, if even the most bungling of Republicans is rejected by voters. Every time.
It doesn’t seem like it’s going to work this time around. Not because the racism is any less motivational to the Republican base, mind you, but because the world is literally in absolute batshit crisis right now and in order to even find time to be racist, even the Republican base has to weave through and over multiple more urgent priorities. It’s harder to sell a notion of “the world will go to hell if my opponent wins” when the world is objectively hell-plus-three right now.
That doesn’t mean it won’t be tried. For starters, Donald Trump simply lacks the capacity to do anything else; he is a racist conspiracy freak by nature, and nobody among his rotating cast of aides and advisers has been able to bend his behavior in the slightest. The rest of the Republican Party has willingly chained themselves to Trump at the ankle, and not just will but must parrot whatever carnival phrases come out of his mouth or face his retaliation.
There’s a pandemic still raging out of control, of course. It’s expected to get worse when the weather turns colder. But the party and its anti-science, Foxified babbling has proven utterly incompetent at dealing with that, so racism it is.